Many Christians hold the belief that God wants them to prosper. The Bible does mention prosperity, and even promises it. In the Old Testament, Abraham and Joseph were promised prosperity. In the book of Joshua, the promise of prosperity is granted to those who meditate on the Book of Law day and night. Proverbs 28, Verse 25, says that those who trust the Lord will prosper. In Luke, Chapter 6, there is a favorite verse of many preachers that speaks of how through giving, you will get a much greater return.
Without question, God wants us to have everything that we need and more, so that we can bless others. There is no doubt that the Bible supports sowing and reaping (giving and receiving) proportionally. The message that some ministries have portrayed seems to go beyond the Biblical perspective of prosperous living.
To prosper, by definition means to achieve economic success or well-being, and enjoying vigorous and healthy growth. There is nothing wrong with that, and I believe that God wants us to prosper. I see evidence, however that many mega-church leaders have moved beyond prosperity into extravagance. Extravagance, by definition means exceeding the limits of reason or necessity or the lacking of moderation, balance and restraint. The Bible does not say that we should be extravagant, but that we should prosper, as our soul prospers (3 John 1:2).
Recently, there was a major investigation of a list of mega-church leaders and their finances. This was due to complaints submitted about multimillion dollar purchases of homes and private jets, tens of thousands of dollars spent on a table and a toilet, and lavish automobiles. I will not get into the details of who was involved or what their responses were. I am sure that you can find out about it, if you haven't heard it already, and you can search for the mega-church investigation with obvious relevant results. The point that I want to make is that there is a corruption in the popularized prosperity message, and it is not good.
In the book of Acts, chapter 4, the believers shared their belongings and money. They gave to each other so that none of them lacked what they needed. They had 'all things in common.' Many people sold their possessions to give to the apostles, not so that the Apostles could purchase huge properties or buy the most expensive caravan to preach the gospel to distant lands. They distributed the goods to all that had a need so no one in the community would suffer poverty and lack. That is truly what prosperity was meant for.
We, as Christian believers, should use our excess to help those in need. As long as there are people who are in need within our reach, we should not be wasteful and extravagant in our lifestyle. I am not saying that there is something wrong with living comfortably, but in my opinion, and based on what I see in the book of Acts, there is no justification for 20-million dollar jets and a 23-thousand dollar toilet. That is extravagant by definition, not Biblical prosperity. I am sure that God wants us to respect our church buildings, and spend the necessary amount of money to see that the building is nice, and he wants us to live comfortably. Even so, I also believe that no matter how much giving these ministries do, until the entire world is fed, out of poverty and properly sheltered, there is no excuse to say 'that is enough giving to them, let's splurge on us...after all, it is for the ministry.'
What saddens me is that many people tithe and give to these ministries thinking that they will achieve lavish lifestyles as a result of their giving. The message easily becomes 'give and you will get something back', rather than 'give because you will help people'. It is also a poor reflection on the Christian faith, and it minimizes the charitable giving that is done.
Isn't it easier to give millions to charity if you can keep a few million for yourself? Is it not more noble to give $100, when you will be left with only $5 to your name? The true givers are those who faithfully give in membership and tithe as a sacrifice, without the promise of return. The true givers are the ones who truly share what they have and are not wasteful or extravagant.
Ministries should have a more eternal mind. God is much more pleased with us believers reaching souls to heal and help them, than how lavish the church and our homes look. If our excess material gains are not primarily used for that purpose, there is too much attachment and pleasure taken in earthly treasure and not enough heavenly treasure as Jesus talks about in Matthew 6:19-24.
Again, I am not against having nice things, but extravagance is not the will of God. Our treasure should be in heaven, and our earthly goods should be enjoyed with the mindset that it will all be left behind.